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Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Finest Classic Film Scenes #1: Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from?

The Finest Classic Film Scenes is a new series here on my blog in which I will post great (when I use the word great I mean anything from Greta Garbo dying in Camille to Greer Garson hanging off the curtains in a French music hall in Julia Misbehaves. You have been warned.) classic film scenes probably once a week, maybe more, maybe less. They may be moving, melodramatic, funny, tear-jerking, or ridiculous, but they'll always be golden because, hey, that's the way classic films roll. Anyway, without further ado, I give you the first instalment!

*possible spoilers ahead*

Yes, it's the restaurant scene from The Birds. If you've seen the film, you'll understand how very creepy and haunting this scene is. The ridiculous, crazy woman (who is clearly too old to have children that young) shouting "I THINK YOU'RE EVIL!" always sends shivers up and down my spine because, secretly, I always thought that Melanie Daniels was a devil in disguise or something. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

My Year in Film: April & May (If you remember me, pat yourself on the back!)

I know, how dare I show my face here? It's almost 2 months since my last post, so beat me if you like but know that if you do, you won't be getting any more posts EVER. ;D My hiatus can be accounted for in several ways. I will list them below in order of worthy excuses.
  • I spent two weeks in Denmark visiting a classic film friend. (What I learnt: don't smile at Danish people because they hate making eye contact, hate happiness, and basically hate everything except liquorice and their flag.)
  • I started watching Lost about 10 days ago and haven't seen the light of day since. (I've been hiding under my duvet because who would've known it wasn't purely a film about plane crash survivors surviving? It's actually terrifying and quite impossible to stop watching.)
  • I rejoined my local musical theatre group and we've been busy rehearsing for an upcoming wedding on Saturday. (Guess who's singing the intro to Over The Rainbow? THIS MOI.)
  • I spent a week or so recovering from said holiday by watching Cougar Town.
  • I pondered the question: Why are none of the women getting hairy on Lost? (I'm presuming that they didn't all get laser hair removal before the flight...)
  • I had my hair cut. Like Samson, my strength was zapped so I had to wait a while before I could start typing again. 
  • I spent 4 weeks trying to avoid writing anything for this blog because I knew I'd have to write this list. I feel victorious now.
All very acceptable reasons, don't you agree? Anyway, what I suppose I'm saying is I'm back and bigger than ever (you may think I mean figuratively but I mean ACTUALLY bigger. I put on about 8lb in Denmark because their food is ridiculous.). You can look forward to at least one (hopefully interesting) post a week and 3 on Sundays. No. Wait. What. 

Hope you're all feeling fabulous! 

#75 La Rafle (2010)
#76 *Anne Frank: The Whole Story (2001)
#77 Easy Virtue (1928)
#78 Der letzte Zug (2006)
#79 Out of the Ashes (2003)
#80 The Grey Zone (2001)
#81 Hidden in Silence (1996)
#82 Nuit et brouillard (1955)
#83 The Talk of the Town (1942)
#84 Private Lives (1931)
#85 The Gay Bride (1934)
#86 The Racketeer (1929)
#87 That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
#88 Theodora Goes Wild (1936)
#89 There's Always Tomorrow (1956)
#90 Until They Sail (1957)
#91 In Name Only (1939)
#92 Never Wave at a WAC (1953)
#93 Dishonored Lady (1947)
#94 Possessed (1931)
#95 Platinum Blonde (1931)
#96 Lady in a Cage (1964)
#97 A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)
#98 The Bride Wore Boots (1946)
#99 No Time For Love (1943)
#100 Oh Happy Day (2004)
#101 De-Lovely (2004)
#102 Man of the World (1931)
#103 *Titanic (1997)
#104 Three-Cornered Moon (1933)
#105 Return to Peyton Place (1961)
#106 You Belong To Me (1941)
#107 Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
#108 It Started With Eve (1941)
#109 Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

#110 Victor Victoria (1982)
#111 Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)
#112 Elle s'Appelait Sarah (2010)
#113 *Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
#114 Paths of Glory (1957)
#115 *Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
#116 Berlin Express (1948)
#117 *The Lost World (1997)
#118 This Above All (1942)
#119 The Hunger Games (2012)
#120 Beyond the Sea (2004)
#121 Witness to Murder (1954)
#122 *The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer 
#123 The Farmer's Daughter (1947)
#124 Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
#125 Bhowani Junction (1956)
#126 Bachelor Mother (1939)
#127 Another Time, Another Place (1958)
#128 All That Heaven Allows (1955)
#129 Der Untergang (2004)
#130 The Dirty Dozen (1967)
#131 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
#132 Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)

1900s - 0
1910s - 0
1920s - 2
1930s - 10
1940s - 11
1950s - 9
1960s - 5
1970s - 0
1980s - 2
1990s - 3
2000s - 11
2010s - 5 
Out of the Ashes, 2003

When people think about Holocaust films, one of the first titles that comes to mind is usually Schindler's List and, being an incredible film in all aspects, it really is deserving of being so high up on the list. However, I feel that there are many Shoah films out there that should be just as much in the public eye as SL. Out of the Ashes is one of them. I went into this film not expecting that much (it's an American made-for-tv movie ,so...) and was consequently very shocked when the incredible story began to unfold. 

The film begins with Gisella Perl (Christine Lahti), Holocaust survivor and doctor on whose book (I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz) the film was based, arriving in America in the late '40s and being informed that the US authorities believe she was a collaborator with the Nazis. Her life before and during WWII is slowly revealed during her meetings with the immigration officers. Dr. Perl was sent to Auschwitz during the latter years of WWII and was, like so many, unaware of just exactly what was happening to those sent to the concentration camps. As such, she made it known, to none other than Josef Mengele himself, that she was a doctor. After unwittingly sending a group of pregnant mothers to their deaths at the "infirmary" and being consequently told what she had done by a fellow prisoner, she made a vow that threw her beliefs before the war and her immediate instincts for the survival of herself and, more importantly, others, into the balance. 


Although I'm a lover of Cole Porter's music, I'd never seen this film until a friend made me watch it in April. She'd been mentioning it for a while so when I visited her, we popped the disc in the player. Quite simply, it's the most magical biopic I have ever seen. With luscious scenery, great acting, an exciting plot, and, of course, an absolutely incredible soundtrack, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about De-Lovely (unless there are huge inaccuracies in the story - and I wouldn't know about that!). On the subject of the soundtrack, something really great about it is that, apart from Cole singing "You're the Top" during the credits, the tracks were all recorded by contemporary singers. Some of my favourite recordings are: Blow, Gabriel, Blow (Jonathan Pryce), Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love) (Alanis Morissette), It's De-Lovely (Robbie Williams), Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye (Natalie Cole), and So In Love (Kevin Kline, Lara Fabian, Mario Frangoulis). Do yourself a favour and watch this film! You will laugh, cry, sing, cry some more, and then probably cry all night. It's brilliant! 

Der letze Zug, 2006

Der letze Zug (The Last Train) is a German film which follows the fate of the passengers in one of the last cattle trains that left Berlin for Auschwitz. It seems that in films, and often in books also, there is never any real mention of the horror of the cattle trains, usually we just see the people being put on board and then being taken off, in an appalling state, at the other end. In this, however, the only scenes that take place outside of the train are the beginning and ending scenes and the flashback scenes used to flesh out the characters and put them into context. The horrors that occur inside the train throughout the course of the film are truly unbelievable, but the thing that really made my stomach turn was the nonchalance of the guards and soldiers. In particular, there was a brilliant shot of a guard stroking his dogs head, so gently and lovingly, while inside the train all of the innocent human beings were dying of thirst and hunger. It's the little things like that that really make this film stand out and I urge everyone to see it at some point. If you have LoveFilm instant, you can go and watch it right now!

Elle s'appelait Sarah, 2010

Elle s'appelait Sarah (Sarah's Key) is a modern story intertwined with one that is almost 70 years old, the story of a little girl, Sarah Starzynski, who hid her younger brother in a secret closet in their apartment during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in July, 1942, and promised to come back for him as soon as possible. When journalist Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas), who is writing an article about the Roundup, realises that the apartment  she is about to move into came into the possession of her husband's family at about the time of the Roundup, she starts digging around in it's history. The more she discovers, the more she becomes overcome with a desire to know how and why her husband's family came to live in the house and what happened to the  previous family, Sarah's family, the Starzynskis.

This really is a stellar film. I've read several reviews that complain about the "unnecessary" modern story but, personally, I think that it was a necessary part of the plot. It ties the film together and gives it a feeling of solidity and a feeling that A) the atrocities of the past should never be forgotten, and B) history is important because it makes us who we are.

La rafle2010

La rafle (The Round Up) is, as you might have already surmised, another film about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of July, 1942. Although not as graphically shocking as some films dealing with similar subject matter, LR is a chilling account of how the French police betrayed their own people by rounding up all the Parisian Jews and  sending them to the Vélodrome d'Hiver (a bicycle stadium in the centre of Paris) where they were left for several days with only the food they had brought with them, dirty water from a single pump, and no access to toilets. After this, they were taken to an internment camp outside Paris where, after the adults and older children had been sent to death camps, the children remained for a time before eventually being sent to their deaths. Of the 12,884 Jews arrested, only 25 survived - less than 0.2%. 

The cast of this film is absolutely perfect. Among others there is Mélanie Laurent, Jean Reno, and 4 brilliant child actors: Hugo Leverdez, Mathieu and Romain Di Concerto, and Oliver Cywie. The two older boys portrayed their characters in such an honest, subtle and subsequently quite heartbreaking manner. Again, if you have LoveFilm instant, you can watch this film on there as soon as you're able! 

Thanks for reading!
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